Bend Venture Conference Celebrates 10 Years!


Serial entrepreneur Steve Blank to headline Oregon’s largest angel conference. The Bend Venture Conference (BVC) will celebrate 10 years of entrepreneurship this October.

On Friday, October 18 the headline pitch event at the Tower Theatre will feature early stage companies vying for an investment prize targeted to exceed $250,000. The conference warm-up activities on Thursday, October 17 include seminars, the UnConference and the Broken Top networking reception.

A lot has changed since a group of local volunteers held the first BVC conference in 2003. Today the angel conference has grown to be the largest in the state with just under 400 attendees last year and 40 percent of attendees coming from outside of Central Oregon.

This is the fourth year that the event has been managed by Economic Development of Central Oregon (EDCO) and under EDCO’s management, the conference has grown each year. 2012 marked both record attendance and investment dollars.

BVC also now offers two tracks for startup companies: one for concept stage companies and a separate track for more developed launch stage companies. Last year’s launch stage winner Sonivate Medical earned an investment of $265K and two additional finalists from Bend—JettStream and Rally Cause—also earned significant sidecar investments from the pool of BVC angel investors. Concept stage winner, Bend-based ziPede, beat out competitors for a $10,000 grant from BendBroadband.

This year’s event promises to be the best ever with Steve Blank as the conference keynote speaker. In addition to being a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley (eight companies in 21 years), teaching entrepreneurship (U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University and Caltech), and writing about entrepreneurship (The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost and The Startup Owner’s Manual), Steve is the thought leader behind the Lean Startup movement (rapid cycle build-measure-learn), credited with democratizing entrepreneurship. Steve’s approach to customer development was the pivotal component that sparked the movement in 2011. The Lean Startup methodology is used by FoundersPad, Central Oregon’s first technology accelerator launched by EDCO in the same year.

The 2013 BVC conference will also feature impressive panelists—with representatives from Bend, Portland and Silicon Valley—that will help screen the finalists.

The response to the conference has been quite strong with a large number of applying companies in place for the 2013 event. “We are very close to record applications of companies again this year but, more importantly, I’m very excited about the quality of the companies we’re seeing,” said Jim Coonan, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst Manager and manager of the event. “I believe our finalists will be the most impressive group of entrepreneurs yet.”


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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